Year in Review – 2018’s Been Real… Something…

What can be said about 2018?  It was an unforgettable year.

I’m incredibly grateful for my friends and family who care about me, but I also had to do some letting go of people who weren’t the friends I thought they were.

I also had the amazing opportunity to go on a monumental several-month road trip of the United States.  Despite never having traveled alone for more than a week, I packed up my car and set out entirely alone.  I stayed with some friends and family along the way, but the majority of my nights were camping by myself.  Not only did I get to see some of the amazing scenery and history this country has to offer, but I also got to prove to myself that I can travel solo and have a great time in my own company.

And last, but certainly not least, I got over 15,000 annual views on this blog.  My current figure is 15,098, which is more than 1,000 more views than I received last year.  I must be doing something interesting!  Thank you to all of you who read.

Without further ado, here’s the recap:

  1. Paula and I went on a girls’ weekend at Mount Rainier on President’s Day weekend.  We went out on snowshoes, drank wine, did puzzles and had a fabulous weekend of girl bonding.  It was so much fun!

    I was so excited I could do a high ponytail!


  2. My 31 year old horse Biz has been good.  My vet decided to go a conservative route last winter and not pull one of his damaged canine teeth, but instead another one broke; it has since healed.  He is doing well with his remaining three incisor teeth and a daily painkiller.
  3. In March, I did my first 15k Hot Chocolate Run in Seattle with Katy and Katie.  The weather was cold, but the company was good!

    At the Expo


  4. At the end of March, I had the opportunity to join my friend Lelani, her daughter Laura and Laura’s friend Brenna, on a 6 day road trip down to San Francisco and back.  We camped, saw the San Francisco sights, and did some wine tasting in Santa Rosa.

    Me with the Golden Gate Bridge


  5. Paula, Brandon, and Joel and I spent Memorial Day weekend in Walla Walla wine country again.  We did some shopping, soaked up the sun at the pool, and relaxed for a few days.
  6. In June, Oliver went to be with the angels.  His cancer had progressed, and it just wasn’t fair for him anymore.  I still miss him terribly.

    Oliver and I on our last day


  7. Taryn, Brandon, Brent and I took a two week trip to London in late June and early July.  It was my first overseas trip since 2006, and we did and saw so much!

    Taryn and Me with the bow of the Cutty Sark


  8. I left my job in July to fulfill a dream of mine.  I converted my car with a bed and storage, and traveled the United States for four months seeing the sights.  Since I was on the road so long, this trip probably deserves slots 8-30 in this review.  I learned that I could do it, and had an amazing experience, and hope to be able to do it again at some point.  That is such an incredible understatement too.
  9. I spent a week in September visiting family and going to my cousin’s wedding.  It was great to see everybody and catch up on life with my aunts, uncles and cousins.
  10. My former boss, mentor and friend, Larry, died in mid-December.  He played an important role in my life and my career since I met him in 2001, and I will miss him terribly.

I am hopeful that 2019 will reveal itself to be a good year, with new beginnings and continued love from my friends and family.  May all your lives be blessed as well.


Road Trip Photo Faves: Longhorn Steer

With the countdown to Christmas and all its associated chaos/busy-making, I haven’t had much time to write…  Not to mention the fact that I am still having major issues with my internet service, but that’s a rant for another time.

So I’ll entertain you over the next few weeks with some of my favorite photos from my road trip.

This Longhorn Steer lives at the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Deer Lodge, Montana.  I love cows – I have always thought they are very cute, and this guy is no exception.

Book Review: Gone With the Wind

“After all, tomorrow is another day.”

I began reading Gone With the Wind in early February, after a late January trip to Atlanta put me at the Margaret Mitchell House, a house museum dedicated to the author and located in her old apartment.  My discussion with the guide at the museum piqued my interest about the book again, and so I wanted to read it with my new perspective in mind.

Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell was the granddaughter of two Confederate officers, so the nostalgia of the Old South ran deep in the stories she heard in her childhood.  In addition, she was a strong woman, a young adult during the roaring twenties, when women were testing the boundaries of freedom and women’s roles.  You have to consider that Margaret Mitchell was writing her novel shortly after the women’s suffrage movement, the Flapper era, and during Prohibition.  She had a unique perspective on the role of women in society, at a time when women were pushing the boundaries of traditional female roles.

Mitchell made her main character an incredibly strong female role model; you can love Scarlett or hate her, but you have to recognize that she was a woman who never bowed down to men, nor to society’s expectations of her.  You have to respect a woman who goes through the kind of trials that Scarlett goes through and still manages to continue to get up and fight another day.  And that is essentially the theme of the book – never give up, fight another day…

There is no doubt that Gone With the Wind depicts African Americans as simple-minded, inferior souls who need the protection of their white masters.  It is simplistic at best, and completely ignores the brutal reality of slavery.  It is challenging to read Mitchell’s linguistic portrayal of the way the black characters in her novel speak.  However, it does make sense given Mitchell’s upbringing, in an upper class white society, with a family who undoubtedly glorified the way the South was before the war.  She most likely didn’t believe that there was anything but truth in her grandfather’s patriarchal, fatherly depiction of the treatment of the slaves during the antebellum period.  Mitchell was very sophisticated in some ways (divorcing her abusive, alcoholic husband and working in the newspaper business at a time when few women worked outside the home), and very naive in others.

I’m not a fan of banning books, or shunning a book simply because it no longer fits within the societal norms of today.  I do believe that we should read books and try to understand the context from the era in which they were written, and the belief system of the author.  Sometimes understanding is the best way to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself.

When looked at within the context of the time when it is written, Gone With the Wind is a very interesting portrayal of the South.  History is often seen through the eyes of the victors, and this novel obviously portrays Georgia from the perspective of the vanquished.  Although it does oversimplify parts, it also provides information that is often glossed over in the literature of the Civil War and Reconstruction.  There was a whole group of citizens who were mourning their way of life, and who had to fight to survive a brutal taxation and political system after the war.  There were hardships – even if the modern era doesn’t have a lot of respect for that way of life.

It took me a long time to read this book.  It is rare for me to be reading the same book for 10 months.  During this time, I have gone through over a dozen audio books.  This one took a while for a variety of reasons; it is long (719 pages), it has super tiny print, and I was traveling the country for part of the time I was reading it.  I didn’t have a lot of time for reading books on my trip; once I got settled for the night at a campground, it was time to make dinner, get my car ready for sleeping, keep up on my travels in my journal, etc.  Not to mention, as soon as the sun went down, my brain said it was bedtime!  Hopefully I will be able to get through my next book a bit more quickly.

Relaxing with a book on the patio

This novel is a classic for a reason, and it is still worth the read.


Thanksgiving Turkeys

Tomorrow is that day of days, where we Americans stuff ourselves silly with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, wine and the aptly named stuffing.  If you are truly serious about this free for all of gluttony, you wear your fat pants…

I snapped this pic of some wild turkeys at the campground where I stayed in Cape Ann, Massachusetts.  I liked the framing of the dirty, cobwebbed bathroom window…  Art is everywhere.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Now make sure you are ready – go find your fat pants!

Turkey Window


Circus Trip 2018: Withdrawals

I have been home since Monday night.  I unloaded the car and have put away most of what was loaded into it.  I have seen my parents, four of my friends, got my hair cut, and had my tires rotated.  I brought my cat Coraline home.  It has been good seeing people here, but I miss Jeff.  And I miss being on the road.

I drove 13,660 miles on my trip.  It’s hard to believe there are that many miles to be had in the United States, but there you have it.  That’s almost as many miles as I typically drive in two years!  Even with that many miles, there was so much I didn’t see, and I would go back out in a heartbeat if I could.

I am certainly missing this view, from Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

Circus Trip 2018: Rain rain go away

I thought Utah was a desert??? But noooo… I got into Utah on Friday afternoon, with a late in the day visit to Hovenweep National Monument.

Hovenweep is remote. And incredible. The two and a half mile easy loop walk takes you past a dozen or so ancient Puebloan structures. You can stand right next to them!

I camped at the campground there and shortly after I arrived, Carol texted to say she was there too! We met at Mesa Verde that morning and she was planning to head to Monument Valley but decided to come to Hovenweep first!!

We shared a bottle of wine in the dark and sat at the picnic table staring at the most incredible dark starry sky I have ever seen. The Milky Way, Mars, dying stars – they were all close and bright in a way I have never experienced. There was no moon visible to mute the brightness of the stars. I was in awe of the beauty on this Earth – I wonder what those people 800 years ago thought when they looked at those same stars.

Today I headed north, stopping at Natural Bridges National Monument and doing some short hikes because the rain was threatening. Shortly after I got back in my car the thunderstorm struck, with a clap of lightning so close that it I could feel the electricity!

I continued my drive through Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in intermittent rain to Capitol Reef National Park. I am camped in my car listening to the rain on the roof. I am hoping it clears for my explorations tomorrow.

Please go away rain!!


Circus Trip 2018: Westward

I was with family in Michigan for over a week, but it was time to get back on the road and start making my way westward.  As I said before, I did travel east more slowly than I was expecting, and with the hurricane’s aftermath in the Carolinas, I have made some changes to my path.

From Michigan I will drop south into Missouri, and start making my way west, loosely following Interstate 70.  I still have so many things along the way that I want to see, and I am sure that more will continue popping up on my radar.  That’s the problem with any trip; there are so many places to see and so little time, realistically.  There is so much that I have to skip.  Unless someone wants to volunteer to be my benefactor, so I can just stay out on the road! Just sayin’…

I’ve gone a bit soft, having spent close to two weeks in real beds, in real houses (and one night in a hotel).  I have been spoiled by my parents, aunts and uncles, and have loved seeing them and many of my cousins.  It is interesting to be back in the car and alone again!

Yesterday I did some organizing; pulling things out of the car and rearranging to make better use of my available space. I had pulled my sheets out to wash them, and yesterday I pulled my mattress out to rebind it, then put it back in and made the bed.  It felt good to get things neat and organized again – it is hard to stay on top of it in such a tiny space!

Today I visited Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and enjoyed the crashing of the waves on the beautiful sand beach. I hope you are all happy and well!